PANETTONE, WILD YEAST VERSION

It is almost that time of the year, my friends! I firmly believe that Brazil might be the number 2 country in the world with the highest consumption of panettone in the month of December, losing to Italy, but barely so. They are obsessed over there. Odd bird that I was, I did not care for it until I was about 30 years old.  Now, not only I love it, but I am partial to the authentic version. No chocolate chips for me. Of course, I won’t be mad if you modify this version to include them. I  am open-minded, your chocolate chips will be fine with me!

Timing for the process:
Mix and ferment first dough: 12.5 hours
Mix final dough: 30 minutes or longer
First fermentation of final dough: 1 to 1.5 hours, with folds every 20 – 30 minutes
Divide, rest, and shape: 25 minutes
Proof: 4 – 6 hours at 80F, or about 12 hours at room temperature
Bake: about 40 minutes
Hang/cool: several hours

Time consuming? Yes. Very involved process? Yes.
Worth it? TOTALLY!

PANETTONE
(very slightly modified from Wild Yeast)

yield: two large loaves, best if baked in paper molds
(available at amazon.com)

for starter:
20 g mature stiff (50%-hydration) sourdough starter
20 g flour
10 g water

Mix all ingredients and ferment at 85F for 4 hours. Repeat feedings at 4-hour intervals, each time discarding all but 20 grams of starter, and feeding it with 20 grams of flour and 10 grams of water.

To feed the starter for a whole night, use only 10 g starter with the flour and water, then leave until next morning. Make sure that the final feeding right before you make the dough happens 4 hours before, so that the starter is at its peak. When you are ready to make the final dough, prepare enough starter using these proportions to have enough to use (make a little over 100 g to allow for  eventual evaporation)

First Dough Ingredients:
346 grams flour
190 grams water
1 gram (1/3 teaspoon) osmotolerant yeast, or 1.3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) instant yeast
85 grams sugar
55 grams egg yolk
7 grams (1.5 teaspoons) diastatic malt powder
85 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
90 grams sweet starter

Final Dough Ingredients:
all of the first dough
82 grams flour
5 grams (7/8 teaspoon) salt
25 grams egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
zest of a medium orange
115 grams water, divided
82 grams sugar
126 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature (pliable)
20 grams honey
126 grams raisins
150 grams candied orange peel

Glaze Ingredients (optional)
42 grams granulated sugar
3 grams (2 teaspoons) ground almonds (or almond flour)
3 grams (3/4 tsp) vegetable oil
3 grams (1/2 tablespoon) cornstartch
3 grams cocoa powder
15 g egg whites
1/8 tsp vanilla paste

Topping (optional)
powdered sugar
Swedish pearl sugar
whole blanched almonds

Make the starter over a period of one to several days. Its final feeding should be given 4 hours before mixing the first dough.

Prepare the first dough the evening before baking: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix all of the first dough ingredients just until combined. Cover the bowl and ferment for 12 hours at warm room temperature (about 72F), or longer for a cooler room. The dough should more than triple in volume.

Make the final dough: To the first dough in the mixer bowl, add the flour, salt, egg yolks, orange zest, vanilla seeds, and 40 grams of the water. Mix in low speed until the ingredients are just combined, about 3 minutes.

Turn the mixer to medium speed, mix for a minute or two, then continue to mix while slowly adding the sugar, in about 5 or 6 increments. Mix for one to two minutes between additions.

Continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and the gluten is almost fully developed. Turn the mixer back to low speed and add the butter. Mix for a minute in low speed, then in medium speed until the butter is completely incorporated into the dough and the gluten has reached full development (forms a nice windowpane when gently stretched).

In low speed, add the honey, and about half of the remaining water. Mix until the water is fully incorporated. Add the remaining water and mix until it is fully incorporated. At first it will seem very soupy, do not worry about it, keep mixing and it will end up very smooth and nice.

In low speed, add the raisins and candied peels, mixing just until they are evenly distributed. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container (preferably a low, wide one, to facilitate folding). Ferment at warm room temperature for about one hour, folding the dough after the first 30 minutes. If the dough seems very loose, fold it at 20-minute intervals instead.

Turn the dough onto a buttered surface. Divide the dough into two pieces, and form each piece into a light ball.

Allow the balls to rest (may be left uncovered) for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, if baking in paper molds (recommended) skewer them in the lower third portion with  two wooden skewers inserted in parallel. They will hold the panettone after baking upside down to keep the shape. Shape the dough into tight balls and place into the skewered molds.

Proof at 80F for 4 – 6 hours (or about 12 hours at room temperature), until the tops of the dough domes are even with the top of the molds and the sides are an inch or so below the tops. When the dough is nearly fully proofed, preheat the oven to 350F, with the rack in the lower third of the oven.

To mix the glaze, whisk all ingredients together. Pour, brush, or pipe the glaze evenly onto the top of the loaves. Sift powdered sugar generously over the tops, then sprinkle with pearl sugar and garnish with whole blanched almonds.

Place the loaves directly on the oven rack and bake for about 35 – 40 minutes, until the tops are dark brown and the internal temperature is 185F. If the tops are already quite dark after 25 – 30 minutes, turn the heat down to 325F.

While the panettone is baking, set up your hanging apparatus (See above). When the bread is done, hang them as quickly as possible. Allow the panettone to hang for at least four hours, up to overnight.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I urge you to visit Susan’s site (Wild Yeast) for her original post on the subject, as she goes through many small details I omitted, just to make this post slightly shorter.  I actually made the panettone three times last year and had some issues when I baked using a regular metal tin (as shown in the composite picture above).  The issue was un-molding and having the baked product keep its shape. It simply did not happen. The crumb is very delicate as it comes out of the oven and in both situations I had the loaf forming a very unattractive fold, in which the crumb got compressed and deformed. Did it affect the taste? Not at all, but once that happened (twice), I decided that baking in paper molds is definitely better. It makes cooling – inverted in the mold – a lot easier.

Just make sure you have a large enough pan to hold it. I should also say that for this third bake I halved the full recipe and made one single large loaf. Panettone will always be bittersweet for me, as last year I baked one and shared with people from the lab, sent some to Aritri and she loved it so much I gave her a whole loaf later. At the time she was already quite sick and her parents were in the US to help take care of her. They all loved the panettone, I believe it was their first time trying it. If you’ve never baked one, don’t let the apparent complexity of the recipe scare you. Keep in mind it’s an enriched dough with a lot of goodies added to it, so the process must be taken slowly, if you try to speed it up, the final product won’t be as good. Patience is key.

Susan, I know you are not blogging anymore, and I really miss your bread-wisdom in the blogosphere, but maybe this post will give you a smile knowing that your recipe was baked several times in the Bewitching Kitchen! Thank you!

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THE DOBOS TORTE


Several years ago I saw a recipe for Dobos Torte in a website and the image of those thin cake layers joined together with chocolate buttercream, plus the interesting crown of caramelized cake made me wish I could taste a piece right then through the screen. I said to myself I would be making it really soon. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and I swear it’s been at least 3 years if not more in my plans. Finally, I went for it, and it was one of the most rewarding experiments in our kitchen. I enjoyed the preparation of each component, and loved how they came together nicely. But what really makes this cake is the decoration on top. You must get the caramel dark enough so that it will stay hard on the cake, otherwise it might start to weep and you lose the textural contrast. This is definitely a cake fit for a special occasion. Like a gray Monday early in November that brought with it unexpected snow showers.

THE DOBOS TORTE
(adapted from a recipe from Chef Wilhelm Wanders)

for the sponge cake layers:
140 g egg yolks
120 g granulated sugar, divided (60 + 60g)
2 g salt
1 tsp vanilla paste
210 g egg whites
120 g all-purpose Flour
40 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

for the chocolate buttercream:
250g granulated sugar
250 g whole eggs
550 g unsalted butter at room temperature
200 g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)

for the caramel:
150 g granulated sugar
50 g water
10 g fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp coffee extract

to decorate:
crispearls or shaved chocolate

Heat the oven to 375 F. 2. Prepare six sheets of parchment paper drawing a circle with 8 in diameter in the center. Flip the parchment, so that the pencil drawing is in the bottom. Reserve.

Important: weigh the bowl you will be using to make the cake batter and write down that number. 

Whisk the egg yolks with  half of the sugar (60g), salt and vanilla using a KitchenAid type mixer fitted with the wire whisk. You must whisk until the mixture is thick enough to form a ribbon when the batter drips from the whisk. It might take more than 8 minutes to get there, be patient.

In a clean mixing bowl with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and remaining 60 g of sugar on high speed to soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into egg yolk mixture, then fold the flour (sifted on top). Remove a small amount of the batter and mix with the melted, cooled butter. That makes it easier to incorporate the butter homogeneously into the cake batter. Fold the butter into the cake batter.  Weight the bowl and calculate exactly how much batter you have. Divide by six to get the exact amount you’ll need to spread on each parchment paper. In my case I played conservative, and although the calculations gave me 104 g of batter per circle, I used 100 g only.

Spread onto the parchment lined baking sheets within the circles. Bake for about 10 minutes, in my oven I could do two sheets at a time. The other circles can wait as you bake.  Remove from oven and transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack.

Make the chocolate buttercream. In a clean metal mixing bowl, warm the sugar and eggs over a water bath to 140 F. Whisk in a KitchenAid at medium-high speed for 5 minutes, so that the mixture will cool almost to room temperature.  Add the butter (room temperature, preferably as close as possible as the temperature of the egg/sugar mixture) in small pieces, then the melted chocolate, and mix until homogenous and a spreadable consistency.

Make the caramel:  Stir the sugar, water, and lemon juice and melt in a saucepan over medium heat. Prepare an off-set spatula by coating it lightly with oil. Cook the sugar until the caramel turns amber. Pour the caramel onto one of the cake layers and spread with an oiled offset spatula.  Wait 30 to 60 seconds. With a well-oiled chef’s knife score the caramel-coated cake layer into twelve even pieces slices. Use scissors to cut neatly the 12 triangle shaped slices.  Set aside to cool in the fridge. Add 1/4 cup water and coffee extract to the pan with the leftover caramel, gently heat and make a simple syrup to use as a soaker for the cake slices.

Place the first sponge layer on work surface. Soak the sponge layer with simple syrup. Evenly spread a thin layer of buttercream filling on the cake layer. Repeat until five cake layers have been filled with equal amounts of buttercream filling. Frost the cake and decorate the sides using a cake comb.  Score the cake into 12 pieces.

Pipe decoration on each piece using a star-shaped piping tip. Place caramel sponge decoration on each cake piece and decorate the center with crispearls or shaved chocolate.  Cool for buttercream to set, but if possible bring to room temperature before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: One of the best advices I’ve seen lately for baking in general is to weigh the bowls you use most often and write down that number someplace. I actually stuck a tape on my Kitchen Aid with the magical number 1,045. That is how much the bowl weighs.  Whenever I make cake layers I don’t need to think twice. Just weigh the bowl with the batter, subtract the magical number and work from there. If I  need to divide the batter in 2, 3, 4 pans, I do it on the scale and know exactly how much to pour.

In the case of the Dobos, it’s really important that the layers get uniform in thickness. Next time I will also weigh the amount of buttercream added to the first layer, so that I can make sure all others are exactly the same. I had a little too much enthusiasm filling one of the layers and it is evident in the sliced photo that you’ll see later. Finally, I think it could be also good to spread the cake batter slightly bigger than 8 inches in diameter and then use a cake ring to cut them all exactly the same size. Details like this will make the final product more polished.

I cannot praise enough that caramel coated-decoration. In fact, I think one could make cake-cookies just like that. I had to control myself not to go to the mail room in our department and steal all the decorations. But truth is I always send a picture of the dessert as a group email on Sunday, so it would be hard to explain how its crown would be all of a sudden absent.

The cake is obviously very rich but a small slice is more than enough. I’ve seen Dobos Tortes showcasing 8 or even 9 layers, so if you feel particularly brave and indulgent, make more cake batter and go for it. But you will need extra buttercream also, the recipe as written had enough to fill, cover and make the piped decorations with a small amount leftover. I have also seen variations without the cake layers fanned on top and using sugar work instead. I urge you to stick to the classic method. I hate to be repetitive, but… those caramelized pieces? You need to get up close and personal with them…

ONE YEAR AGO: Coffee-Caramel Entremet Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Fennel Soup with Almond-Mint Topping

THREE YEARS AGO: Eataly

FOUR YEARS AGO: Spaghetti Squash Perfection

FIVE YEARS AGO: Skinny Eggplant Parmigiana

SIX YEARS AGO: Supernova Meets Wok

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EIGHT YEARS AGO: Back in Los Angeles

NINE YEARS AGO: White House Macaroni and Cheese

TEN YEARS AGO: Korean-Style Pork with Asian Slaw

ROAST VEGGIES WITH BLACK BARLEY

Black sesame, black barley…  What can I say? Love them both, although black barley is not always available in our stores. Online I see what seems to be the exact same product described as “purple barley” and pretty expensive by comparison to the product I find here at Hy-Vee. I love the way it looks and it seems to be slightly more chewy and perhaps a bit more bitter than regular barley. In this recipe, I paired it with my current favorite way to roast all kinds of veggies.  It all started with carrots

ROAST BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CAULIFLOWER WITH BLACK BARLEY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

(use enough veggies to cover a baking sheet in a single layer)
Butternut squash, cut in 1 inch pieces
Cauliflower florets sliced to have a flat side
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp rose harissa
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
lemon juice to taste
1 cup barley

Heat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, harissa, paprika, pomegranate molasses and salt.  Add the veggies to the bowl and toss well to combine. Spread on a baking sheet, add a tablespoon or two of water, cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until nicely golden brown.

Meanwhile cook the barley. Fill a large saucepan with lightly salted water, when it comes to a boil drop the barley and cook gently until soft. It should take between 30 and 40 minutes. I prefer to retain some texture. Drain it, coat lightly with olive oil and reserve.

Remove the veggies from the oven, add some lemon juice and serve over the cooked barley. Adjust seasoning if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I love this type of recipe, it “almost” makes me feel that becoming a vegetarian would be possible. Almost is the key word, though. I rather embrace my omnivore nature. Leftovers? You know I always cook dinner with leftovers in mind, and more often than not I pair them with another favorite food item of mine.

Lunch is served!

ONE YEAR AGO: Creamy Chicken Thighs with Sun-dried Tomatoes


TEN YEARS AGO:
 Magical Lamb Stew

BLACK SESAME JAPANESE MILK BREAD

Have you heard of the tangzhong method to make bread? It is a Japanese technique that cooks part of the flour before incorporating it into the dough, causing the starch to suffer a change in structure that retains water more efficiently, so the bread will be very soft and have a longer shelf life. This recipe was on my friend’s Dana blog and I jumped on it almost immediately because the way she spoke about the black sesame paste made me realize I needed that in my life. Badly. The bread ends up with airs of a showstopper creature, but it’s really not complicated to make. And the flavor? My gosh. You need that black sesame paste in your life also.

BLACK SESAME JAPANESE MILK BREAD
(slightly modified from Wakeandbakemama)

for the black sesame paste (can be made the day before):
½ cup toasted black sesame seeds, finely ground
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened

for the tangzhong:
6 tablespoons
water
2 tablespoons bread flour

for the dough:
1/4 cup whole milk
1 + 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
320 grams bread flour, plus up to 30 grams more
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered milk (optional)
2 eggs, 1 for the dough and 1 for the egg wash
2 tablespoons butter, softened
splash of milk or water, for the egg wash

Make the sesame paste.Finely grind the black sesame seeds in a spice grinder. Add the sugar and softened butter. Pulse to make a paste. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and set aside. You can refrigerate this in advance. Before using, bring to room temperature to ensure it has a spreadable consistency.

Make the tangzhong. In a small saucepan, whisk together 6 tablespoons of water and 2 tablespoons of bread flour until no lumps remain. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. It should thicken to a gel-like consistency after just a few minutes. As soon as lines appear in the mixture when stirred, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a small, clean bowl. Let cool to room temperature.

Make the dough. Heat the milk briefly to just above room temperature, about 110° F or lukewarm to the touch. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and set it aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate.

In the meantime, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the bread flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl or a measuring cup, whisk together the tangzhong, cream, milk powder (is using), and one egg.

Add the yeast mixture to the wet ingredients, and whisk gently, just to incorporate. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in all of the wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a loose, shaggy dough, then switch to using your hands. Knead for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the dough forms a semi-smooth ball. The dough will be quite sticky — sprinkle the extra 1/4 cup flour, a tablespoon or so at a time, over the dough and your hands as you knead to keep it from sticking too much. I usually use at least 2 tablespoons and often up to the full amount, but you may not need it all.

Add the butter to the dough, one tablespoon at a time, kneading after each addition. Add the second tablespoon of butter only after the first has been evenly incorporated. The dough will be slippery and messy at this point, but just keep kneading and it should eventually form a soft and pliable dough that’s easy to work with. Knead for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled.

Once the dough is doubled gently deflate the dough and roll it out as a large rectangle. Spread the black sesame paste all over it, leaving a small border free of paste. Roll the dough from the long side, forming a cylinder, with the seam down. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough almost all the way through, and open the halves, exposing the center.  Twist the two strands around, making sure the inner layers are facing up.  Carefully drop it inside a loaf pan (9 x 5 in works fine), and allow it to rise covered for another hour, hour and a half.  Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350F.

Whisk your second egg with a splash of milk or water, and brush the egg wash over the dough. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden-brown on top. Internal temp should be 200 degrees F. Let it cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD

I love carrots but have a problem with eating them raw, cannot quite wrap my mind around the harsh texture. In fact, when I see carrot sticks playing as crackers next to a nice bowl of hummus, I feel a bit sad. In this salad, raw carrots are grated and mellowed down by spending some time in a nice dressing with one of my favorite ingredients, pomegranate molasses.  It is absolutely delicious, and even a person with my anti-raw carrot approach will love it. Trust me.

MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD
(adapted from many sources)

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
Kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup dried dates, thinly sliced
1 pound carrots, peeled and shredded
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Prepare the dressing by mixing in a bowl the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, turmeric, paprika and salt.  Pour the olive oil whisking constantly. Add the chopped dates. Reserve while you process the carrots.

Shred the carrots in a food processor or grating by hand.  Add the carrots and olives to the dressing/dates mixture, and mix well. Leave it to stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Add the toasted almonds, sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top, adjust seasoning and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Cannot praise this simple salad enough. One of the things I love most about it is that it is still good next day. How many salads stand an overnight sleep in the fridge? Not that many. Well, maybe if you have more rabbit genes than me, you could find the texture next day a bit too soft, but I doubt it. Still delicious. Pomegranate molasses brings the right amount of sharpness and sweetness, it all goes together beautifully. And don’t skip the pomegranate seeds, they please the eyes and the palate!

Between writing this post and publishing it, I made this salad again. Second time around I used Ras-El-Hanout instead of turmeric, skipped the paprika, and added thinly sliced green apples instead of green olives. Another version, same deliciousness…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Sourdough

TWO YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite

THREE YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Paalak Paneer, a Farewell Post

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, November 2015

FIVE YEARS AGO: Helen Fletcher’s Oatmeal Cookies

SIX YEARS AGO: Thai-Style Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

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SCARY GOOD RECIPES FOR YOUR NEXT HALLOWEEN

Halloween will be back in only 361 days, so I am here to help you get into proper mood for it. Truth is, I had so much fun making these recipes, I cannot stand the idea of waiting for months and months to share. Let me introduce you then to some Friendly Ghost Cookies, Witches’ Fingers, and a Gingerbread Coffin with a chocolate cake inside so delicious that a dead body will rest forever happy.

FRIENDLY GHOST SUGAR COOKIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

360 g all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
2 teaspoons baking powder
215 g granulated sugar
2 tsp orange zest
¼ tsp salt
227 g cup butter, cold and cut in pieces
1 egg
3/4 tsp Fiori di Sicilia extract
1/2 tsp cardamom

for icing:
4 Tablespoons meringue powder
½ cup water
1 pound powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup (such as Karo)
a few drops of almond extract

Heat oven to 360F.  Make the cookie dough. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg, Fiori di Sicilia, orange zest and cardamom, mix well. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and beat just until combined.

Dough can be rolled right away in between sheets of parchment paper. Roll to about 1/4″ thick, and cut into shapes. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, freeze for 5 minutes. Bake for about 12 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool to room temperature before icing.

Make the Royal icing. In the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer, with paddle attachment the water and meringue powder for a couple of minutes. Add the powdered sugar (sift over the bowl), corn syrup and almond extract. Beat on high speed for about 5 minutes.

Divide the Royal icing in three portions, one large will be left white. Two small portions will be dyed black and orange.  Flood the cookies with white icing and decorate with black and orange details as shown in the pictures.  Allow to fully dry before serving them.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe click here

Comments: The recipe makes quite a bit of cookies, feel free to halve them if you prefer. Rolling the dough and baking is not a big deal, but of course the decoration demands a bit of time. I made them one evening after work and had this little voice talking to myself “why didn’t you make just half?”

The composite picture below shows you how easy it is to make the decoration for the little ghosts. Three lines, wet on wet, and a needle to pull the lines through, first in one direction, then in the opposite direction.  I cannot take credit for it, I saw a similar design somewhere in Pinterest world.


The combination of orange zest, fiori di Sicilia and cardamon is really wonderful. I need to think about those flavors for macaron filling.

Moving on……


WITCHES’ FINGERS

Recipe from my friend Karen over at Karen’s Kitchen Stories. Click here to get all the details.

RECIPE STEPS IN PICTURES

Comments: At first I was a bit insecure about how much green dye to use (secret is to use less than you think you need), and how to exactly shape the fingers. Well, don’t worry too much about it, no matter how you do it, the result will be gruesome and horrific. Which is pretty much the goal of the bake, right?  They taste delicious, and the nails  almonds add a nice flavor to them. As to the jam, I used raspberry jam with a tiny drop of red food color to intensify the effect. The jam by itself was not as red as I wanted.

Moving on to the final bake…


GINGERBREAD COFFIN WITH CHOCOLATE CAKE
(from Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

for the gingerbread dough:
660 g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 sticks (227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
200 g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses

for icing:
4 Tablespoons meringue powder
½ cup water
1 pound powdered sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup
a few drops of almond extract

for the caramel glue:
200 g sugar
60 mL water
1 tsp corn syrup
1/2 tsp lemon juice

for the chocolate cake:
463 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
70 g Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (237 g) water
3/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
220 g all-purpose flour
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk

for the chocolate icing:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup

for the Royal icing decoration:
(same recipe as sugar cookies)

Make the gingerbread dough. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high, cream butter and sugar for about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then honey and molasses.

Slowly add the flour mixture until well combined. Divide the dough into 3 pieces, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour.

Heat oven to 350°F. Working with a third of dough at a time, roll out to ¼-inch thickness on parchment paper well dusted with flour. Cut the pieces you need for the coffin, and transfer the cut pieces to the freezer for about 10 minutes. Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes. They must be crisp and dry but not getting dark.

Cool them completely before icing and once the icing is dry, assemble the coffin using caramel.

Make the caramel. Put the sugar and water in a large, low-sided frying pan over a medium-high heat. Without stirring, bring to 320 F.  If you don’t have a thermometer, the syrup is ready when the sugar has dissolved and it turns a golden color, not too dark.  Swirl the syrup gently in the pan to even out the color. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool for a few moments to thicken slightly to the consistency of honey. Dip the edges of the pieces you intend to glue and assemble them. Drizzle additional caramel if needed using a small spoon. 

If the syrup begins to harden in the pan, put it back over a gentle heat until it has returned to the required consistency.

Make the chocolate cake. Heat oven to 350F.  Spray a 13 x 9 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, extending the paper out of the pan to facilitate removal of the cake after baking.

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, salt, cocoa, and baking soda. Add to it 1 cup of boiling water, stir well and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Pour the hot cocoa mixture into a mixing bowl, add the oil and vanilla and beat on low speed until combined. On low speed, mix the flour into the batter and then add the eggs, egg yolks and buttermilk. Do not over-mix. Pour the very thin batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 35 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean when tested in the center of the cake.  Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a rack. Run a thin knife around the edge and jar the edge of the pan to loosen. Invert onto the serving platter. Cool completely, then cut in pieces to fit inside the gingerbread coffin. You will have to do some assembling to fit some of the cut pieces in the bottom of the coffin.

Make the chocolate icing. Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler. Add corn syrup and set over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. use immediately, pouring it gently over the cake, once it’s inside the gingerbread coffin.  Allow it to set for a few hours at room temperature.  Use Royal Icing to draw a skeleton inside, if you so desire, or use powdered sugar and a stencil.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Your cake will be baked in a 13 x 9 rectangular pan. You should draw a design for the coffin that makes the lid no bigger than 12.5 inches in length. The sides should be 2.5 inches in height.  It is a pretty easy design, I made the pieces in cardboard and used those to cut the gingerbread dough. The recipe has a reasonably small amount of baking powder, so that the dough does not change much during baking, but you can always use a Microplane grater to bring the edges into better shape.

Most gingerbread sculptures are assembled with very thick Royal icing. It has its problems – I will discuss those a bit more in a future post. Caramel sounds dangerous because it’s so hot and if you burn yourself it’s not fun at all, but the advantage is that it glues quickly and you don’t have the white stuff joining every piece. That is nice for a house or other structures, but I prefer the coffin to be more austere.  Apart from having to clean the pan after making the caramel, I liked the method better than Royal icing for assembling.  Live and learn.

The cake was absolutely wonderful even next day, moist, intense, it gave a bit of moisture to the gingerbread base, which I did not roll as thin as I should have. I need a lot more practice with this type of dough, and find that particularly to roll large pieces, I have issues keeping it thin and uniform. At any rate, Karl Lagerfeld did not seem to mind cutting pieces for Spider Woman. And she was delighted for catching him in her dangerous web. They do make a nice match, even if I say so myself. Biased, who moi?

I hope you enjoyed this little roundup of Halloween recipes. It is a scary job, but someone has to do it.

ONE YEAR AGO: Devil Wears Chocolate

TWO YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooker Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots, and Fennel

THREE YEARS AGO: The Best, the Very Best Hummus

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cheddar Cheese Crackers

FIVE YEARS AGO: A New Take on Cauliflower Puree

SIX YEARS AGO:
 In My (NEW!) Kitchen

SEVEN YEARS AGO:
 
The Lab Move and New Beginnings

EIGHT YEARS AGO:
 Honey-Oat Pain de Mie

NINE YEARS AGO:
 Carrot and Leek Soup

TEN YEARS AGO:
 Chicken Parmigiana 101

 

BLOODY CUPCAKES FOR A SPOOKY HALLOWEEN

Red Velvet cake and Halloween is a match made in heaven. Heaven and Halloween? What have I done here? Oh, well. To make them even better, stab each cupcake with “broken glass” and make them “bleed!”

BLOODY RED VELVET CUPCAKES
(decoration from Recipes by Carina)

for the cupcakes:
160g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
85 g (6 tablespoons) butter, softened
150g granulated sugar
1 egg
2 T cocoa powder (I used natural)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tablespoon red food dye

for the frosting:
170 g unsalted butter, softened
500 g cream cheese, cut in pieces, at room temperature
260 g powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste

for the broken glass decoration:
200g sugar
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp corn syrup
1 tsp lemon juice

for the fake blood:
½ cup light corn syrup
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp water
1-4 tsp red food gel
drops of blue food gel

Heat oven to 350 F. Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Reserve. Cream softened butter with sugar using a KitchenAid type mixer with paddle attachment.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk the buttermilk, vinegar, egg, and red food color. When the butter and sugar are well mixed and the mixture is pale, add the egg, mix briefly and add the cocoa powder. Once the mixture more or less smooth, add the flour in three additions, and the liquids in two, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the  batter to regular size cupcake pans, lined with paper.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting. Put the softened butter in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until smooth.  Add the pieces of softened cream cheese to the mixing bowl, a small amount at a time. When all cream cheese is added and combined, beat for about 1 minute then add the powdered sugar in three portions, adding the vanilla after the last third portion.

Beat for 2 to 3 minutes more, but do not over-mix or the mixture can become loose.

Make the decorations. In a saucepan measure out the sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice and water. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil for 3-5 minutes until the sugar starts to change colour or until it reaches 300F.

Pour the melted sugar out onto a baking sheet lined with Silpat.  Leave to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to the fridge for a few hours to harden.  Break shards when ready to decorate the cupcakes.

Make the fake blood. In a bowl mix together the syrup and cornstarch until combined. If needed, add water to reach proper consistency. Add the food gel, small amount at a time until you have a deep dark red shade. Spoon the blood over the cupcakes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Once these cupcakes were done, I thought that another cute way to present the same idea would be a red velvet jelly roll type cake, with little blobs of cream cheese frosting on top and the glass shards properly stabbed here and there. And blood. A lot of it. Obviously.

Have a great Halloween celebration, whatever scary thing is on your menu.  I leave you with a shot from 2013, when we went to a party with the graduate students from our department. Halloween was Aritri’s favorite holiday and this week I cannot take her out of my mind.


Star Trek Captain finds Handsome Alien and brings him all the way to her planet where they’ve lived happily ever after…

ONE YEAR AGO: Lamb Meatballs, Slow-Cooker Version

TWO YEARS AGO: Elaine’s Sourdough Boule

THREE YEARS AGO: Zucchini, Lemon and Walnut Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Paleo Energy Bars

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Dressing

SIX YEARS AGO: Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Burgers

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Clay-pot Pork Roast

NINE YEARS AGO: Panmarino

TEN YEARS AGO: A Classic Roast Chicken